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A Meningitis Story: "This Could Have All Been Prevented With A Vaccine"

by Amy Aiken |

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) one of our beloved Abilitee Team members, Amy Aiken, shared the following about her battle with Meningitis Strain B that almost took her life. Amy is now a passionate advocate, speaking for National Meningitis Association and Immunize Texas. She is also a devoted member of the Amputee community as well. 

10/25/11. The day my 1st life ended and my 2nd one started. Eight years ago, I contracted Bacterial Meningitis/Meningococcal Disease Strain B w/ Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome (WFS). This combination is the most severe and no one survives it. If there is anyone out there who had this combo, please contact me. 

I thought I had the flu, My doctor thought I had the flu and I tried to fight it off. If I would’ve slept through that night, I would’ve been dead. But I woke up and called 911. The last thing I remember is climbing onto the gurney and the flashing red/blue lights outside.

It doesn’t happen over time, it happened all at once. Because of the disease, I lost my legs below the knees, the majority of my fingers, my kidneys, and my adrenal glands. I have hearing damage in my right ear and my eyesight is damaged in my right eye. My sinuses were forever damaged by the feeding tube that they had to use. I also have Bronchiectasis (a lung disease) that developed over time. It’s a disease I will carry forever.

I have had a total of 17 amputations, countless surgeries and procedures, my back was skinned three times, and my initial hospital stay was over 8 months long.
Amy lays in a hospital bed with machines attached to her
Meningitis Awareness
People talk about 'losing everything’: I literally LOST EVERYTHING. From my job, my apartment, (my dog!) to my own limbs.

Everything is different now. The way I see the world is completely different now. Living with a compromised immune system and a volatile kidney transplant is tough. I do not have the normal energy that you folks have. I fight and struggle with chronic pain every day.

BUT I am proud of myself for clawing my way back to a new normal. And I still get to do the things I love most: meet people, hang with friends, eat chocolate and drink coffee 😂, working, and go see live music.🤘🏼

It takes a village. There are 2 people who deserve all the credit in the world:  Dr. Brian Metzger, Infectious Diseases & Internal Medicine, and Brian Anderson, Physical Therapist at St. David Medical Center in Austin.

Thanks for reading. ❤️✌🏼



Easy-to-Read Infant and Children Immunizations Schedules: English and Spanish.

National Meningitis Association: Disease and Prevention Information

CDC: Common Questions about Vaccines

American Academy of Pediatrics: Immunization Resources






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